Superfoods and You

Superfoods

This term is intimidating. Superfoods! If you read a food is a so-called superfood and you don’t eat that food, should you be ashamed?

Should we rush to purchase it? What even makes a food a superfood? What’s so super? I mean frosting is super in my mind… But it will never be called a superfood!

So, if delish is not synonymous with superfood then what is? A few things actually… Let’s take a closer look.

Some might say that the term superfood is really more of a marketing bit- people using it to push home the thought that something is essential. I think I have found myself referring to extracts and foods alike that I may have called “power houses”. It is a way to help someone understand why you think something is SO outstanding. Why you think a food or extract is above the rest.

A superfood is a term that is used to describe foods that are one step above the rest; but there is no standardization. This is important to note! Superfoods are not a structured term that is regulated, it is simply a term used by many in varying fields of food, nutrition, food sales and other to help convey a message… hopefully an honest one. Superfoods should be dense in nutrition. This does not mean high in calories- this means that for a specific portion they pack the punch when it comes to nutrition.

A superfood is nutritionally dense in one or more of the following:

  • Antioxidants (perhaps used in place of a more complex term such as Phytonutrients or (Polyphenols a type of phytonutrient))
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Enzymes
  • Fiber
  • Healthy Fats

Other constituent in the food that makes it supportive to your health; perhaps it is supportive by being preventive in some capacity. Perhaps there was research showing the food to mitigate inflammation, or an antioxidant it contains shown to support over all cardiovascular health or any other system in the human body. Many foods are called superfoods for their rich/high antioxidant capacity.

I do agree that we should aim to consume foods with the qualities above, however be aware though, that food companies may use this word to get you to purchase their products. For example; in nature, goji berries have been touted to be a super food; but if you are calling a sugar-laden granola with goji berry a super food- then think again. This is being used out of context. Nothing about processed granola that has more carbs in a serving than 3 slices of bread is super by any means. No single food has the answer to it all, and no one food is perfect. So please remember that.

The use of this word, if used at all- should be to support the public in consuming foods that are nutrient rich and supportive of their health. My problem with the term superfood, is if used too loosely, is that it gives people a license to go overboard because it’s “SUPER”. Foods can have beautiful health properties but as a culture we can tend to over do it. Remember, always in moderation.

You may have heard the following foods be labeled as a superfood:

  • Blueberries (actually almost all berries have likely been called a super food at one time or another, cranberries, raspberries, blackberries)
  • Kale (but let us not forget spinach! Before kale, spinach was also said to be a superfood and it still is)
  • Broccoli
  • Salmon
  • Edamame or Tofu (controversial, but still mentioned here and there)
  • Chia Seeds
  • Walnuts or Almonds
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Açaí Berry
  • Avocado
  • Collard greens
  • Legumes

The list goes on and on…

People might say there is a top 10 list of super foods but that list may include foods that not everyone agrees are super. Also, based on someone’s individual health one superfood might not apply to everyone. I am not saying the list above includes my favorites ….  If it was I would question: What about GINGER? Or Turmeric root? What about tea? Those would certainly be on my list!

The take away message: superfoods exist but make sure to practice moderation and not go overboard when you hear the term.

Incorporating superfoods may support your health, may help you fight off damaging free radicals, may support your immune health, or they just might make your diet a bit healthier overall. There’s nothing wrong with that! Be cautious, start to incorporate if you enjoy the food and keep on reading here. The research changes every day!

Healthfully,

Jaime